These summaries were prepared by McGuireWoods LLP lawyer Thomas E. Spahn. They are based on the letter opinions issued by the Virginia State Bar. Any editorial comments reflect Mr. Spahn's current personal views, and not the opinions of the Virginia State Bar, McGuireWoods or its clients. 
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27-Litigation Tactics (Including Misrepresentations, Tape Recordings)

31-Protecting and Disclosing Confidences and Secrets

A lawyer representing an employer in appealing the award of unemployment compensation to three company employees sees one of the employees outside the Virginia Employment Commission office while preparing for a hearing on another employee's unemployment benefits. That employee tells the lawyer that he intends to be a witness at his colleague's hearing. The employee preparing for his hearing knows that his colleague is present, but represents himself pro se at the hearing and indicates at the end that he has no other evidence to present. When the VEC rules in favor of the company, the losing employee hires a lawyer, who asks for the hearing to be re opened, arguing that the company's lawyer should have disclosed the availability as a witness of the other employee whom the lawyer saw outside the hearing room. The Bar holds that the lawyer was not obligated to tell the Virginia Employment Commission about the unhelpful witness, and in fact had a duty not to make this disclosure because it would have hurt the lawyer's client (the company).

Copyright 2000, Thomas E. Spahn